The King’s Bastard by Rowena Cory Daniells – Book 1 of King Rolen’s Kin

I’ve just realised that this review has been sitting in my drafts for a week. I forgot to hit the ‘publish’ button.

Rowena Cory Daniells lives in Brisbane with her family. She’s been involved in speculative fiction since 1976.

I found this review quite difficult to write. This is quite a complex tale for only my second review, though it’s an easy read.

The King's Bastard - Book 1 King Rolen's Kin

The King's Bastard - Book 1 King Rolen's Kin

Rolencia has been at peace for thirty years – since the current King married the Merofynian princess. They have four children, twins Lence and Byren, younger son Fyn and their youngest child, daughter Piro.  Lence is just 7 minutes older than Byren and is kingsheir. Lence is listening to a new and influential advisor and is growing more discontent with Byren’s popularity; he’s sure that Byren wants to be king. Lence feels that Byren is purposefully showing him up when he saves his life. Byren comes across an old seer, a renegade power worker but refuses to believe her prophesy. He doesn’t trust Lence’s advisor and doesn’t want to be king. He can’t believe that his twin no longer trusts him.

There is magic in Rolencia; it is seeping up through the ground and drawing strange and dangerous magical beasts to it. Any Rolencians who have magic are sent to the abbeys to be trained to control their magic. Untamed magic is dangerous and can easily turn evil. Kingson Fyn has weak magic and was sent to the monks at eight years of age. He’s desperately homesick and has a hard time at the Abbey because of his royal blood. Now young Piro is displaying strong magic. She doesn’t want to be sent away and plans to hide her magic.

The warlords of the provinces are stirring, they are unhappy and seem to be loath to swear fealty to the king. There are attempts on the kingsheir’s life. There is trouble once more in Merofynia and they appear to be getting ready for war with Rolencia. There are rumours that an evil sect is rising again. Trouble is definitely brewing.

This is a terrific and fast-paced read. So much is happening and there are questions that you want answered. But this is only book one and it seems to ask more questions than it answers. There are obviously more things going on than the reader knows about yet; things that leave you hanging out for the next book.

Byren has an amazing amount of good fortune and escapes almost certain death several times.

Just what is the motivation of Lence’s  new advisor? Can he be trusted at all? Is he manipulating corrupt magic or is someone manipulating him? The king is also listening to him and trusting him more than he trusts members of his own family.

There are plots and factions and dirty deeds afoot at the Abbey.

The more I think about the happenings in this book the more tangled the web seems and the less sure I am of the main characters. Oh, but I’ve been drawn right into their lives. Some I like, others I don’t and there are a couple that I’m really not sure about at all. The ending was quite a surprise, but even that I’m not entirely sure of.

I can’t wait for the next instalment.

Dragon’s Ring by Dave Freer

I’ve been following Dave Freer’s blog, Flinders Family Freer for about 18 months. Now I’ve added a Dave Freer book to my bookshelf. It wasn’t a simple thing to do. I’ve never seen one of his books in a bookshop and I had to order this one in.

Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer

Dragon's Ring by Dave Freer

Dragon’s Ring isn’t epic fantasy but it’s a thouroughly enjoyable yarn.

We have Tasmarin and it’s falling apart.

We have dragons, and they are the rulers of Tasmarin. This is a story about dragons. Some are good, some aren’t. One of those dragons, Fionn the black dragon, intends to destoy Tasmarin.

We have other beings of a variety of races, some of which have their own plans and magics.

We have humans, amongst whom there are no longer any mages. The dragons destroyed all the human mages in times past; or thought they did.

A human mage has appeared. No-one knows where she came from and she has no idea that she has any magic.

There’s a group that plans to work a mighty spell to save Tasmarin. This group is made up of a member of each race – except humans. They need the human mage; they plan to use her for their own ends and then destroy her – if they can find her.

A travelling gleeman finds the young mage before the cabal does. She travels accross the land with him, but soon realises that all is not what it seems, that the gleeman is not what he seems.

From the the blurb on the back of the book: ” Chaos, roguery, heroism, theft, love, kidnapping, magic and war follow. And more chaos.”

I found the first two or three chapters of this book quite confusing. I couldn’t work out just what was going on. I couldn’t work out who was who and who was what. The cast of characters is at the front of the book. The glossary is at the back. I found it quite a nuisance for them not to be together. I kept going from front to back to try to figure things out. The glossary didn’t really seems to help me anyway. I like to refer to the glossary. And there’s no map. I like a map. I like that visual representation of the relashionship between places.

It took me a little while to get everything straight in my head, but  when I just let it go and enjoyed the story everything seemed to fall into place and oh boy! What a story. It’s fast-paced, action-packed and came to an end all-too-soon.

There are the good guys and the bad guy, but are the good guys really good guys? And is the bad guy really a bad guy? All too soon it’s clear that nothing is certain. Except for the human mage. It’s easy to like her, though at first it’s not easy to reconcile her behaviour with that of a young woman of 17. She starts off as very childish but grows in strength and character as she comes into her own and finally realises that the magic she sees around her is actually her own.

Yes, there’s war and chaos, love and magic and all of those things. Some of the dragons are nice and some aren’t. There are dragons eating other dragons, and dragons eating humans.  Some from the other races are nice and some aren’t. There are beings turned to stone or disintegrated. There’s vanity and there’s deception. And there’s a sheepdog! Who wouldn’t love a loyal, cuddly sheepdog?

There’s no knowing just how this story is going to end until it actually ends. And it’s a bittersweet ending when it comes.

Will I read another Dave Freer book? Absolutely! I can’t wait for the next one to come out!

Book reviews

I’ve never been one to write book reviews. It’s something I’ve never really been interested in doing. This year I’ve decided to write a short review of each book that I read. It will only be a short review. A brief synopsis and my opinion of the book. I want to try to avoid spoilers so my reviews won’t be too detailed.

Watch out for my first ever book review…coming soon!